Sunday, February 23, 2014

Track day bro!

Yes, that cool words we enthusiast like to mention around to the common mortals...
Why do you buy that car? Why do you make that car that way? Why do you do that to the car?
The common questions common mortals tend to ask and it's just a simple answer... track day bro! xD
That and if our car starts breaking down or making weird noises.... BECAUSE RACE CAR!!!! :P

The past 8th February there was a track day at our local track "Sipang" international circuit held by personally I don't think the track day was a reasonable rate, but then again with all the price hikes going around in our glorious country... compared to others, RM330 per session of 2 hours is possibly the most reasonably deal one can find around here... the progress of the 3rd world country FTW!! ;)

As much as I like tearing down the touge at absurd speed (well we like to think we're going at absurd speed :P), going to the track once in a while to polish our skills and sharpen our driving technique is a must if we're seriously considering on pushing the car and ourselves to the limit.
And doing it safely in the confine of the track is the best, safest and legal way without getting shout at and curses for our next 7 generations by random people >.<

So our good lady Katyusha had her first taste of the track at the track day session, but prior to her track test I was itching to test her where she truly belongs first... the touge.
Our first shake down was at the famous Bukit Putus... since Keisuke is at his in laws in Senawang, I figured why not I pay him a visit, pick him up and head to the local touge :)
Bukit Putus is a prime example of a great touge road, since there is the main highway bypassing it, it is relatively empty, riddled with hairpins and great long corners :)
The road surface is not bad either, although Katyusha is no longer running on her Aragosta suspension, which apparently was leaking, we track her up with a Tein adjustables... which was a good choice as well :)
Uphill Katyusha just ate the corners, with a naughty oversteer on the exit... she was running like a dime on the uphill.
But apparently we found out she was understeering like a pig on the downhill, most particularly the hairpins and heavy braking corners... at first we thought her front suspension setup maybe too soft for downhill run, but then after looking up our video run we were able to pinpoint the culprit... it was US!!!! T.T

After 2 years hiatus from the touge, or any spirited driving for that matter... my skills has become rather dull...
I didn't noticed it while driving the car, but looking at it from the outside my driving style has become extremely twitchy and looks rusty as well.
The movement of the car was not fluid at all, in fact it look like I was controlling her with a keyboard o.O sudden movements here and there, no wonder the weight balance is off.
And downhill run, keeping the weight balance is of the utmost importance... so that's why she was understeering like a pig :P we were just too rough...
Another thing we found out during the shakedown was that her cooling was inefficient.... T.T
After several runs the engine and the clutch would overheat... before we were using a Mercedez Benz cooling fan, good enough to keep her cool... but it had a faulty relay (which failed when Keisuke was driving her and had a hilarious experience with the overheating 13B xD), which meant we had to change it to a cheap ebay fan T.T
Who would have thought even Zee Germans would have build quality issues :P
But I guess we're not alone in that respect like here xD

So before going for the track day I know I had better polish my driving technique again, so night after night I went with Katyusha to our old hunting ground... the Tekali Touge ;)
At first I was very intimidated by the experience of driving her at speed at pitch black twisting road... but I was only able to make 2 or 3 runs before she overheated and had to wait for her to cool down.
The 2nd night we went out to Tekali, I had more confident and the OS Giken gear box with its close gear ratios are just a perfect match for the twisty road of Tekali, we can just maintain between 3rd and 4th gear... the sweet spot for the H-pattern gear, only shifting up to 5th on the long straights.
I was 30sec faster than my first night with Katyusha and I was pushing Katyusha up to the point where she even can't finish a whole run proper... she would overheat just going through the uphill run o.O
But at least I was driving her smoothly now, I can brake her properly up to the point of standing on the brakes on the downhill run without having anymore understeer issues at corner entry... the car movement has become fluid again and I felt connected to the car again ^^
Keisuke was just still searching for his lost confidence after his disastrous experience with our old lady Kate... which I can't blame him neither do I have any advice for him other than just to continue practicing the touge run again and again until he eventually does finds his balls confidence again :P
Because he does has the skills, no doubt about that....

So it suddenly dawned on us that Katyusha might possibly not even have the cooling capabilities to even finish a single lap at "Sipang"   >.<  But it is too late to do anything by now, we wrap out our night and went off to bed with the track day on our mind...

Come 8th Feb, track day time :D
I was feeling rather confident I wasn't going to mess up anyone's track day session by running into them or spinning out of control because of my poor driving technique, those nights at the touge and countless of hours of GT6 sessions help boosting that confidence :P
We had a lap time target in mind... 2:35 was our target, which I think is quite possible given Katyusha's performance.

As usual we woke up late, have all kind of excuses to miss the safety briefing at 12:30hrs... and just made it in time at the track for the session at 13:00 hrs xD
But it was already not looking good for Katyusha, her clutch started overheating even before going out for the lap... I had to start her in 2nd gear o.O
I drove the out lap as slowly as I could while warming up the tires, and took the longest run for the main straights to try to get at least 1 decent lap time....
First corner came racing from the horizon and I braked hard just before the 100m mark, passed a Porsche Caymen at the inside and buried the throttle through the 2nd corner overtaking a Civic Type R on the exit...
So far Katyusha is behaving like a peach... her handling is sublime!
We came racing towards the 3rd corner, a 90deg right hander... I braked hard just before the 50m mark, the brake feel is also top notch... turn in and slide her out a bit at the corner exit...
Her back end feels planted going through the high speed left and right hander (I like to think it's becoz of the of OP GT wing and rear diffuser, but it might be just becoz of us using better tires :P), my right foot planted onto the floor breathing down a track ready Ford Focus...
I outbraked him coming into the double right hander, but he would not give ground and maintain the outside line... which forced me to try to maintain the tighter inside line >.<
Coming out the 2nd right hander we were abreast with the Focus, but we managed to out brake him coming to the left hairpin, which Katyusha happily kicked out her back end like signalling to the Ford Focus that he just got owned (which we like to think it was a tense battle, but most likely the Ford driver just let us amateur through bloating our own ego xD).
Unfortunately I peeked a little at the temperature gauge and it was already pointing north to the H sign... uh oh not a good sign o.O
Her little 13B rotary is already dangerously overheating, taking the next right hander I was having problem shifting her into gear as well.... her clutch was also dangerously overheated >.<

I was contemplating in my mind at the time, should I cancel this run and slow down or should I continue to press on just a little more to try to get a lap time?
Coming into the last corner before the back straight my concentration was already in a mess... should I try to drop the gear from 4th to 3rd taking the corner? My instincts tells me that I should take the corner in 3rd, but my consciousness is questioning whether is it even possible to downshift to 3rd with the overheating clutch?
I decided to try my luck taking the corner in 4th but the decision was made too slow and too late, the tight exit meant I took the corner too fast and we oversteered into the gravel at the corner exit T.T
And then the Ford Focus overtook us seeing us beached at the corner exit :P
I was just trying to hide myself into the gravel being invisible with the sheer force of will at that moment xD

Apparently because we were beached precariously close to the corner exit right after the apex, the safety car came out and the track was red flagged :P
We shut down the whole track for 2 full lap until they can pull us out of our misery xD
2 unsuspecting cars that were going full throttle despite the warning of the red lights almost ran into us because they were taking the corner at full speed :P
So much for not ruining anyone's track day session xD

Eventually we were pulled out of our shame and misery and limped back into the pits... Katyusha was overheating dangerously and spewing vapour out of her vented bonnet, we were leaving traces of our injury by dropping along all those gravel picked up by our OP rear diffuser, we couldn't even change gear and everyone had that funny look when they were looking at us when we passed them in the pits, possibly because of Katyusha's race car looks but abysmal performance so far T.T
We quietly shouted deep in the depth of our timid heart... BECAUSE RACE CAR!!!! xD

We had to eventually pushed her into the small dark corner of the pit lane out of sight of the laughing eyes because she could no longer engage any gear and had to cool her down somehow... the engine bay was so hot that the cheap ebay fan motor even stopped functioning, her radiator overflow tank cap had blown off and hot vapour was pouring out of it >.<
Eventually we were able to cool her down, the fan started again and the temperature starts dropping. By the time she was cooled and her clutch was able to engage gears again our track day session was over xD
We were quite disappointed by her cooling issues (as you can tell from the looks Keisuke has :P) we drove her home and sent her for treatment at Hau's place... which we later found out the engine overheated so badly the engine block warped, the apex seal was bend and the clutch was finished T.T
Below is the track day vid I made, we were only able to clock a time of 2:14 before I eventually spun at the last corner before the back straight T.T
I'm a FAILURE!!! T.T

I had to go for my out station work again, so Katyusha is back at the shed to be mended hopefully by the time I can get my days off again... and for Kate, although there hasn't been any progress for her lately, but this is what we have in mind for her ;)
A 12,000rpm twin Webber 13B screamer :D